Seeking out – and starting – your first job can be daunting.
Sure, job descriptions will give you some details as to the qualifications you need: What field your degree should be in, how much experience you need, and the like.
But those same postings also tend to skimp on the softer skills – what kinds of things you’ll be expected to be capable of right out of the gate.
Luckily, though, there’s a handful of general skills that will get you far in just about any profession – so read on to find out which skills to brush up on.
If something goes wrong at work – from law to manufacturing – chances are a communication issue was the culprit.
That’s because it’s hard to work effectively if people can’t relay ideas and develop solutions collaboratively.
This is more than talking – communication involves not only getting your own ideas out there, but actively listening to others’ ideas.
As well, you’ll need to be able to understand detailed instructions quickly, especially when you’re first starting out.
And finally, writing skills are indispensable – the first impression you’ll make on any potential employer during a job search will be in writing, whether that’s a resume and cover letter, and email communication is still the backbone of many companies.
Learn to communicate well through all of these channels and you’ll be ahead of the game right off the bat.
If you’re being told how to do something you’re unfamiliar with, you have to be able to pick up that skill – quickly.
As you look to move up through the ranks of whatever company you’re starting out at, you’ll need to have the necessary skills mastered before you can take on more responsibilities.
If you can’t learn, you can’t advance.
And that goes for more than just skills – it’s important that you know how to process and apply any information you learn on the job, as it’ll inevitably come up again.
If you can learn effectively, you’ll look like a pro at your job in no time – and supervisors take notice of that.
While most essential job skills are softer – that is, harder to define – it’s still true that many tech-related skills will help you out.
You likely won’t have to be able to program or anything (though it helps a lot), but knowing how to use common software is essential.
What’s relevant depends on your field – for example, just about everyone will need Microsoft Office, but there’s lots of more specialised software as well.
Delegation and communication apps are often listed as preferred skills for jobs involving team projects or remote work. Graphic design tools can be asked for even if your job isn’t related to graphic design at all.
The bottom line is that companies want to surround themselves with flexible and versatile employees, so if you can bring that to the table, that’s a huge plus.
Some employees need more instruction than others, and in general that’s fine – companies tend to be pretty understanding of the fact that new hires will require some on-the-job training.
But as you work more they’ll start expecting you to work more independently – and you’ll have to be able to demonstrate that you can get things done even when you’re not specifically told to do them.
Supervisors will always be around, of course, but companies run more efficiently if they can minimise micromanaging – so if you’re a diligent worker who can hit appropriate deadlines with minimal outside prodding, you’re an asset.
So you’re working on a project, but you’ve had a setback – and your deadline is coming up fast.
How do you overcome this obstacle? It’s important to be a good critical thinker, for one.
But it generally helps to be informed – know which co-workers are reliable and consult them to see how they dealt with similar difficulties.
You might even ask supervisors and managers about common problems and how to solve them before you start.
Your solutions will vary greatly, but the important thing is that you’re able to come up with acceptable courses of action yourself instead of letting setbacks impede your work.
Of course, problem-solving extends beyond your own projects, as depending on your job it can include dealing with complaints and unhappy customers.
Finally, make sure you can stay on top of things by staying organised.
You might have many assignments and projects to work on simultaneously, all with different deadlines, and it’s down to your organisation skills to keep everything straight.
This includes time-management – you have to make sure you’ve prioritised such that the bulk of your time is put toward the most important things, thus staving off deadlines.
But if you can show an employer that you’re able to stay afloat and manage deadlines effectively, they’ll see that as a valuable asset.